Did You ‘Like’ Or Follow A Russian Propaganda Account? Facebook Will Tell You


Facebook will show users if they've liked or followed Russian propaganda pages on the social network, responding to a request from the congress to do something about Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook Wants You To Know If You've Been Exposed To Fake Russian Trolls

Facebook said on Wednesday, Nov. 22, that it will roll out a new tool later this year to help users determine if the pages they like or follow on Facebook or Instagram is secretly being run by Russian trolls.

Users will find the tool via a newly created portal on their Facebook on Instagram page. Facebook said in a blog post that the tool is part of an effort to "protect our platforms and the people who use them from bad actors who try to undermine our democracy."

In recent years, Facebook and other social networks like it have become breeding grounds for fake news, the unfortunate result of a huge number of people depending on it as their primary news source.

There's currently no way to tell if a page or account was created by a troll, such as the Internet Research Agency, the Russian firm that created fake U.S. accounts to spread misinformation and prompt controversy by engaging in hot-button topics such as gun laws and immigration.

With the new tool, users will see if they've followed or liked such a page from January 2015 through August 2017. This comes as Facebook's most direct effort to address its fake news/accounts problem, or more specifically, how normal users may have been affected by the IRA's make-believe accounts.

"It is important that people understand how foreign actors tried to sow division and mistrust using Facebook before and after the 2016 US election," said Facebook.

Russian interference is now known to be widespread, going beyond Facebook and affecting Twitter and Google as well. Both those companies appeared before the congress in early November to explain how Russia used their platforms to manipulate U.S. citizens. Then they vowed to do more to prevent similar interferences from happening in the future and said they would look into potentially informing their users if they've been exposed.

How About Google And Twitter?

Social media companies are currently being criticized for their role in the 2016 presidential election and the unintended consequences of their technology. Facebook has confirmed that 29 million Americans saw Russian propaganda content on their newsfeed, while 126 million shared posts. On election day, about 10 million saw ads purchased by the Kremlin, the company has said.

U.S. senator Richard Blumenthal hopes Google and Twitter follows Facebook's lead and create their own tools too. The companies have yet to respond to similar requests, according to Blumenthal.

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